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How to divide our time in Berner Oberland, Zermatt, and Lake Geneva area (2 weeks)

Hello, We leave for Switzerland 1 week from today! Trying to decide how best to divide the time. We have 3 nights booked in Bern and plan to spend a couple nights in Murren or Gimmelvald. Trying to decide if we would need separate night (or two?) in Lucerne or should just do day trip there from Bern or Murren.
Also looking for recommendations on how many nights and what town to stay in around Lake Geneva.
Finally, how many nights recommended in Zermatt?
Thanks for any insight!

Posted by Laurel
Lincoln City, OR
6914 posts

Wow! You are brave to go without lodging reservations in August!

As to how long to spend in each place, what do you like to do? Are you going to be doing some walking/hiking? If so, for Mürren/Gimmelwald you should devote more time: at least 4 nights. Luzern deserves a 2 or 3 nights itself.

Zermatt again depends on what you want to do. Since mountain weather can be finicky, at least 3 nights, 4 if you are hikers.

Posted by lauralane26 OP
7 posts

Yes. I am freaking out about the lack of reservations but work has gotten in the way! We LOVE the outdoors and plan to hike and mountain bike, ride lifts... Anything with a view and physical activity is a must!-- Though we will have our 8 year-old with us (who also loves activity).
We'll basically have 12 nights to divide as we fly in and out of Munich.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
5974 posts

Personally - I don't think you need to do both Murren (Jungfrau Region) and Zermatt. If you're going to Murren then you're already in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Zermatt is horribly touristy and Murren (IMO) is just so much nicer. 3 nights in Bern is a bit of overkill. What interest takes you to Geneva? It's not the quintessential Swiss experience. Devote several days to Murren and stay in Murren (not Gimmelwald). Gimmelwald is a pleasant little walk/stroll downhill from Murren.

Posted by Laurel
Lincoln City, OR
6914 posts

Munich to Bern is a bit of a trek by train, so perhap your first night should be in Munich, then the next day hop your train to Bern. (Are your three nights reserved at the beginning of the trip? Can they be canceled if needed for more efficiency? Three nights there seems long to me....)

Alternatively, can you fly from Munich to Zurich on arrival and thus maximize your time in SW?

Assuming 3 nights Bern, then move on to Mürren for at least 4 nights and if you are truly into the outdoors and hiking and scenery, allocate more nights. You will like this area more than Bern.

Then 3 nights in Luzern OR Zermatt OR Lake Geneva. All are beautiful, but the hiking is not as good as in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.

OK, so if you do 1 Munich, 3 Bern, 4 Mürren, 3 Luzern (OR other), that is 11 nights. You have to get back to Munich and spend the night before your flight, so no time for Zermatt or Lake Geneva unless you drop something. I would drop Bern, personally, and spend those 3 nights either in Zermatt (which we like) or Lake Geneva. Zermatt has some very good hiking, IMO.

Posted by Jazz+Travels
3223 posts

Do the day trip to Luzern so you do not have to switch hotels. It is only an hour away.

Posted by shoe
Grand Rapids, MI
374 posts

I agree with Tim. Also, if you can unbook some Bern nights, so much the better. In my opinion, here's how the places rate:
Bern 2
Geneva 3
Zermatt 7
Lucerne 8
Murren 10
And I say that having lived in Geneva. (The the free bikes at and Calvin's belltower are fun.)
If you like to hike, there are maybe 3 good hikes around Zermatt, but a dozen in the Murren/Grindelwald area.
Click on my name to see previous posts where I describe the hikes in the latter.

Posted by lauralane26 OP
7 posts

Yes. The Bern is locked in as my husband got tired of waiting on me.
Would anyone recommend spending a a night or two around Lake Geneva (defiantly not interested in going into Geneva) or better to spend that extra time between Murren and/Zermatt? In reading, Les Diaberet sounded great.